The top 3 travel spenders by nationality, per person

Managing your finances as you travel

A sense of direction doesn’t cost you a cent – but getting lost just might.

Travelling and money are like two peas in an airport sleeping pod, and there’s more to managing your holiday budget than simply saving up before the trip. Here are a few money matters you’ll need to tick off before you take off!

Cards and fees

Did you know the average Australian household spends $2,704 on holidays every year, according to MoneySmart? Or that – for Visa card holders at least – Australian’s are the second-biggest travel spenders in the world, with an average spend of about $5,000 (US$4,118) each.

Some credit cards come with transaction fees when you make a purchase from a vendor overseas, and others charge for when you get money out at overseas ATMs. And no matter how you pack your money, you will pay to convert from one currency to another.

Some vendors will charge a flat fee, some will charge commission, while some charge by way of a reduced exchange rate.

The trick is to know what to expect and plan for it, just as you would for any other travel cost.

Top 3 travel spenders 2013

Cards and points

Imagine all the points you could earn by spending that aforementioned $5,000!

Of course, points often translate into awesome items for your home. Or, for those bitten by the travel bug, points can go towards more flights or accommodation.

Let your bank know you’re travelling

Let’s say your savvy bank knows you live in Sydney. Most of your credit card spends are located around the city, with some even popping up overseas for online shopping. Suddenly, someone is spending up a storm in Tokyo. Is it you, or have your credit card details been stolen and gone on a joy ride to Japan?

Don’t leave it up to a bank to guess your whereabouts and shut off your card access – let them know you’re travelling overseas, and where you’re heading. Once they get over the jealousy, they’ll put a marker on your account so they know what to expect.

Travel with travel insurance

Are you sitting down? You’ll need to be to read this next stat. A medical evacuation from the United States can easily cost from $75,000 to $95,000 – or even as much as $300,000, according to Australian Government travel website Smart Traveller.

That’s why there’s a little thing called travel insurance, and there are a couple of ways you can go about getting it. Normally, you could purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy when you buy your plane tickets and book your trip. Virgin Travel Insurance offers a comprehensive policy you might like to consider.

Another option is to pay for your travel with a Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer credit card – which has international travel insurance to cover your spouse and dependent children for medical expenses, lost or stolen luggage and more. But remember to check out any terms, conditions and exclusions! This little card is quite the big-time flyer itself, as it can be used with Visa in more than 29 million locations around the world.

Have some sense with your travel finances and you might be more likely to come home with a few more cents in your pocket. How do you manage your finances while you’re overseas?